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D-League Profiles: Trey Johnson

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Today's profile stays in Bakersfield, where we look at another scorer who can be a solid NBA bench option - Trey Johnson, a 6'4" 215 pound guard who played with the Jam parts of the past two seasons.

How he got here

Trey Johnson's athletic career didn't start with basketball, at least not just basketball.  Johnson was drafted as a baseball player out of high school by the Kansas City Royals.  He went to Mississippi Community College instead, transferring after one year to Alcorn State.  There he became a two-sport athlete until he tore a ligament in his pitching arm, which ultimately required Tommy John surgery.  Johnson transferred once more, this time to Jackson State, where he made an immediate impact as a three-point shooter.  He didn't do quite as well senior year; despite playing a few more minutes and scoring a little more per game (leading scorer in college with 27.1 points per game), his three-point percentage dropped from 44 percent to 33.  Jackson State went to the NCAA tournament his senior year, losing to Florida by 44 points, though Johnson had a good game personally,

Johnson went undrafted due to an uneven pre-draft camp.  He did very well in the drills, demonstrating his scoring ability and some passing skills, but once the games started he showed poor shot selection and some mediocre defense, and was seen as a borderline second-round pick.  New Orleans signed Johnson to a free agent contract, and he played five preseason games with them before being released.

After playing six games in Serbia once he was released, Johnson signed with the Bakersfield Jam in January of 2008.  A look at how he did after the jump.

D-League play

Johnson did relatively well his first year in Bakersfield, averaging around 12 points a game on just under 46 percent shooting.  He was brought back this season, where he became a D-League All-Star.  Johnson's three-point percentage rose to 41 percent, and he averaged just under 21 points a game.  He had a very good January, scoring 34 points on 19 shots with seven assists against Los Angeles;  25 points on 17 shots, including 5-7 on threes, with eight assists and six rebounds against Reno; and 20 points on 21 shots against Reno in an earlier game, which isn't great, but he also racked up 16 assists.

The Cleveland Cavaliers took notice, and signed Johnson to a 10-day contract in early February.  He eventually spent the entire month with Cleveland, though he only appeared in four games and only scored in one.  He shot a combined 0-5 in all of those games, and returned to Bakersfield in March, where he was arguably even better than before.  He didn't seem to be shooting quite as many threes, but he got to the line a lot, using a 9-9 free throw performance against Rio Grande Valley and a 10-10 outing against Utah to score 21 points against each.  Bakersfield made it to the playoffs, where they lost to the Utah Flash.  Johnson had an okay game, scoring 23 points on 20 shots, but he also missed the only three-pointer he took.

Overall Outlook

Like Derrick Byars, Johnson should make an NBA roster at some point in the future.  His defense still isn't great, and he has a tendency to turn the ball over a fair amount (he had nine against Colorado back in January), but he'd be a solid bench scoring option.  Cleveland remains a possible destination, as he attended high school and remains friends with Mo Williams, though Mike Brown's love of defense might weigh against him.  Really, though, there are a lot of teams who could use a guy like Johnson on their roster, and hopefully he'll show that at this year's Summer League.